Aches, sprains and soreness are common when one is trying to get in shape. However, muscle tears (also referred to as strains) can be more problematic. Those athletes who push their bodies beyond the failure point – doing forced reps or extreme training – are very likely to experience more intense injuries, to include muscle tears. The same is true of people who enter into an exercise program without preparation, as well as those who may suffer an accident on the job. The fact is, if you have a muscle, it can be strained or torn. Here is what you need to know about muscle tears and, most importantly, how to fix them if you are were not able to prevent them in the first place.
What is a muscle tear?
Torn muscles can occur any time your muscle becomes strained or overstretched. This can happen as a result of exhaustion and fatigue, improper use, or overuse. While any muscle can be affected, torn muscles most often occur in the lower back, neck, shoulder and hamstring.
Torn muscles are categorized by the severity of the injury: mild which is a simple strain affecting 5% of a muscle’s fibers; moderate which is up to 25%-30% and accompanied by swelling, decreased range of motion and pain; and severe which is an actual tear in a muscle that is accompanied by extensive swelling.
Symptoms of Torn Muscles
When you tear a muscle, even when it is mild, you will know immediately. Expect pain and soreness, as well as spasms and swelling in the affected area. Depending on the severity of the strain, you may find it difficult to move the area, if at all. You may note swelling as well as bruising and discoloration accompanied by a “knotted up” feeling or stiffness. If the tear is from overuse, the symptoms may take weeks to get to the point where you finally seek medical attention. If the strain or tear is acute and serious –usually brought on by an accident, slipping, falling, colliding into something, or lifting something heavy, you may be forced to seek immediate treatment. Your orthopedist may order an MRI or X-ray to confirm diagnosis and recommend proper treatment, as well as reveal whether a bone fracture has accompanied the injury or not.
Recovery from Muscle Tears
Recovery from a minor strain or tear can be affected by observing the R.I.C.E. – that’s Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation – treatment for injuries. Your orthopedist may also recommend NSAIDs – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – to help reduce swelling. A moderate muscle strain or tear can usually be treated similarly but for a longer period of a time. Normal activities can be resumed when a full range of motion returns without accompanying pain. Moderate tears may require physical therapy. A severe tear that requires surgical repair can take months or longer to heal. In this case, remember the adage: Do no H.A.R.M. – Heat, Alcohol, Running, Massage – all of which can do additional damage by causing more bleeding and swelling in a muscle tear and are therefore forbidden.
In most cases, muscles tears are preventable by observing proper warm-up techniques and never forcing a cold muscle to perform full tilt. Using the proper form in any activity is also critical to maintaining healthy muscles. Know your body’s limits. When it comes to pushing your body to the extreme, there’s no such thing as “no pain no gain.” In fact, pain often is the first sign that a muscle has been injured. Get to know your body and understand its signals. This is the best way to not only avoid injury, but to ensure continued peak performance.
If You Have a Torn Muscle or Bad Strain
When rehabilitating from any muscle injury, it’s essential your treatment plan is right for you. The orthopedic doctors at the Center for Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine are experienced treating all types of orthopedic injuries, including muscle tears. Don’t take risks that could prolong your recovery. You benefit from our doctors’ decades of combined experience that will ensure you receive proper attention to get you back on your feet. Don’t let an injury like a muscle tear set you back. Call Center for Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine at (210) 692-7400 or click here today.